Monday 26 June 2017

Vegetarian Society Cookery School Review - Vegan Toolkit Workshop

A couple of weeks ago I was invited down to the Vegetarian Society Cookery School in Altrincham for the launch of the Vegetarian Society Approved vegan trademark. Our day was spent participating on the Vegan Toolkit Workshop - one of several courses on offer at the Cookery School.

You can read my post about the new Vegetarian Society Approved vegan trademark here.

I've been Vegetarian for 32 years and I've spent most of that a keen cook for a large family, so I didn't know how much I'd learn on the Vegan Toolkit Workshop. In fact I learned plenty and all in a really friendly, relaxed atmosphere - despite the fact that the 8 of us cooked (and ate) over 20 dishes in only 6 hours!

After introductions and a coffee, we started the day with a lesson in safe use of a knife and 'how to chop and onion'. It was a great warm up to start and is something I've tentatively tried at home, but I never quite got it...

We all then made pasta dough and the first dish we made was Vegan Ravioli. The Vegan Toolkit Workshop is exactly that - the basics and underpinning to make a huge range of dishes.

Once we'd prepped the ravioli, we all chose a recipe from those available for a snack brunch. It included Bruschetta, Guacamole, Speedy Quesadillas, the amazing tofu-based Solomon Gundy pate and the dish I made - Vegan Tofu Scramble. This is very much like scrambled eggs with a little kick and was ridiculously simple to make. Barely an hour before we were eating!

I haven't ever done a cookery course before - so I wasn't certain what to expect, but nerves were swiftly put aside. I was in excellent company with some highly respected bloggers - Jen from My Mummy's Pennies, Annabelle The Flexitarian, Emily from Recipes And Reviews, Nicky from Kitchen Sanctuary, Ellie from Ellie's Kitchen UK and Helen from The Crazy Kitchen.

Thanks to the Vegetarian Society for the group photos

Throughout the day we were treated to 5-minute snap demonstrations from Alex the Tutor/Chef, some of them genius. They included Vegan Meringue and Mayonnaise, a couple of types of vegan pastry, Pesto and the incredibly useful Tofu-Making. I've seen Tofu made before on TV, but didn't quite believe it was that easy. It really is.

After our delicious snack lunch, we set to work for real. Each of us chose a main course or dessert and everyone pulled together to make sure everything was finished. The kitchen really was alive and there were so many delicious dishes cooking everywhere, it was hard not to be distracted.

Fruit Sundae, Vegan M'Hanncha, Thai Mushroom Soup and my Vegetable Plait... I've always shied away from aubergine, but it worked really well alongside the other veg and tofu. People generally don't eat enough purple veg and I'm more willing to include it now I've been forced to revisit it. Aubergine is not as gooey as I recall.

We also all tried Breadfruit with the dish bottom right - Grenadian Oil Down (pronounced ile dung). Very much like potato and it was a gorgeous light stew-type dish.

Jamaican Ackee & Tofu was a new taste for me too, and something I assumed I'd never experience, even as a veggie version. We also had a nice hearty Paella and Spicy Chickpea Tagine, Fruity Cous Cous and Thai Mushroom Soup.

Vegetarian Ravioli, Vegetable Plait, really delicious Crispy Wontons and to finish, a decadent Chocolate Fudge Cake...

Somehow I didn't get a photo of the Herb Suet Pudding, which was one of my favourite dishes and an excellent Winter warmer. I'll be making that later in the year and I know my family will be very happy with it...

It was a mighty feast indeed and possibly the best buffet ever. It's been an awfully long time since I was able to take my pick from the entire table - and to know the lot was actually vegan, nutritionally rich and protein-packed was even more impressive.

Thanks to the Vegetarian Society for the group photos.

I had an awesome day, I learnt a whole heap of secret hints and tips, I rekindled an interest in some foods that I've previously not enjoyed and I made some new friends. I didn't even have to wash up! I have so many ideas to work on now that our vegan teenager won't know what hit them...

The Vegetarian Society Headquarters and Cookery School is tucked away off a main road in Altrincham, Manchester. They runloads of cookery courses for all ages and abilities and are incredibly lovely and patient. The Vegan Toolkit Workshop costs from £139. Find out more on the Vegetarian Society Cookery School website. 

The Vegetarian Society will be exhibiting at the Just V Show at Olympia 7-9 July - you can grab yourself free tickets on the Vegetarian Society website.

And if you do visit The Vegetarian Society Headquarters, you'll be delighted to know the garden and car park is full of you'd expect...

Thanks to all of the staff at the Vegetarian Society Cookery School for making us so welcome! My day was free of charge for review and my expenses and travel covered, however I was under no obligation to write about the course, I just wanted to.


  1. A brilliant round up of a fab day! Your tofu scramble was delicious and has definitely inspired me to try making it myself :)

    1. Awww thanks Emily! I'm going to try making Tofu as soon as I have a free afternoon - it seemed so simple and it's so cheap! :)
      It really was lovely to spend the time and get to know you - hopefully our paths will cross again soon sometime :)

  2. This looks like a great place to visit and make so many great things. I must give these a go x

  3. That ravioli looks great. I never know what to do with tofu so sounds like this would be really useful. I am not vegan/veggie but the courses here have caught my eye as I am always looking to make tasty meals so I am dropping hints to Father Christmas!

    1. I was the same. I really only ever used tofu for chinese food - stir fry mainly. It can be so bland, but my eyes are wide open now - it's actually incredibly versatile.
      the ravioli was gorgeous :D


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